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Sophocles (1), Athenian tragic playwright  

P. J. Finglass

Sophocles was one of the three great masters of the genre of Greek tragedy. His life spanned the 5th century bce, and saw him compose approximately 123 dramas, while simultaneously occupying a series of important offices within the democratic state of ancient Athens. His plays demonstrate a mastery of dramatic technique, as well as of the resources of Greek poetic language; driven by a restless searching for innovation, they confront viewers with profound questions about a man’s, or woman’s, position within their city, and the often turbulent nature of their relationship with the gods. The fascination that his dramas exerted on succeeding generations has ensured their survival down to our own day, where their ongoing cultural influence can be documented around the world.Sophocles’ life (497/6–405bce) spanned almost the whole of that century of Athens’s history that later generations would call classical; the enduring reputation of his dramas (see .